NPR Core Publisher
Core Publisher is the content management platform from NPR Digital Services. As product designer at NPRDS, I worked on the design and user experience for Core Publisher. Core Publisher is currently maintained by almost 200 NPR member stations around the country. Between 2013-2015, we developed a large initiative that introduced greater flexibility for the system while adhering to web standards and the latest NPR API developments.
The largest feature set was our transition to a responsive theme. During the 2-year long initiative to revamp the system we reimagined layout using fluid grids and flexible assets, typography introducing a clear typographic hierarchy, and readability in an open, single-column layout. Each feature was developed during our 2-week sprint process and we involved member stations and select station partners—as well as users and NPR superfans—to ensure that our features met the needs of the station as well as the user. By the end of 2015, we had designed and released every feature on our roadmap, including a new way to place media assets, tighter API integration, a more flexible way to inject underwriting, a custom homepage builder with modular news components, and the ability for stations to fully customize their masthead, plus crucial system improvements to speed up load time.
The CP team consisted of the product manager/scrum master, 2 engineers, 1 front-end dev, a UX manager and myself.
Perhaps the biggest challenge, because of the uniqueness of each station was that each design needed to be modular. Since flexibility was our #1 goal for stations, I developed a design system for each web component (header, navigation, content and layout, footer, and underwriting) so that the stations could customize the platform to their needs while maintaining the same visual language across the theme. The result was improved organic search performance, greater direct traffic and increased engagement with written content.
We also rolled out a persistent player in 2015, which allows visitors to stream their local radio while enjoying an uninterrupted browsing experience. Here are a handful of example stations using Core Publisher—my personal favs—KUOW, Michigan Radio, WAMC, WWNO, and a truly enlightening and investigative longform article from KBIA.
“When we ran our own website, our web traffic was flat for three years. Last year, we adopted NPR’s Core Publisher platform. This freed up our web team to focus on great storytelling instead of website maintenance. Our web traffic in 2014 was double the year before — up by approximately 100 percent in page views and unique visitors.” — Scott Finn (WVPublic.org)